Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bling, bling – hip or not – you be the judge

All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language until it finds a willing and prepared hearer. – Robert Louis Stevenson

Today more than ever, we find ourselves up against a language barrier.

It seems no matter how hard we try to look young, sound hip and remain contemporary, our use of the language seriously dates us.

Do you still say you'll wind or roll up the window in your car? Your age is showing. Most car windows today don't wind-up or roll-down. We simply push a button to open and close them.

When our guests are invited to have a seat on the davenport (couch), they have no idea what a davenport is and just stand and stare.

The term "Look it up in Funk & Wagnalls" (dictionary) registers a zero in the minds of most people under the age of 50.

We no longer use a hair dryer; we use a blow dryer. When you ask for a lift, you are requesting a ride or plastic surgery.

Try telling someone to place a chair kitty-corner (diagonally) in the room and see what happens.

The Frigidaire is the fridge. We have vents instead of radiators to conduct heat.

To zap or nuke it in the microwave is to warm up food. A hooded sweatshirt is a hoody.

Fifty years from now, will anyone understand that "Don’t beat around the bush" means "Get to the point"? Who will really know the meaning of "Don't let the cat out of the bag" (keep it secret) or "Go back to square one" (start all over again)?

Our language continues to evolve. We no longer pollute the environment; we leave a carbon footprint. When we decarbonize the planet, we are kinder to it.

Today's phrases sometimes stray into street rap. Another name for wearing a lot of shiny jewelry is "bling-bling." Some casually refer to the people in their departments or organizations as "my peeps."

So will you know what to do if you're told to roll up the window, look it up in Funk & Wagnalls, use a hair dryer, place it kitty-corner, get a cold drink in the Frigidaire, warm up by the radiator, zap it or nuke it in the microwave, wear a hoody, get a lift, don't let the cat out of the bag, go back to square one, reduce your carbon footprint, decarbonize the planet, wear less bling-bling and go tell your peeps?

2009 © Copyright Paula Damon. A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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